A CAMPAIGN to persuade people in Bolton to support a congestion charge scheme for Greater Manchester was launched yesterday.

Between now and December 11, when a public vote takes place, the Greater Manchester Yes Campaign will argue why the peak-time charge is worth it in return for £3 billion-worth of transport improvements.

Ken Knott, a founder member of pro-congestion charge group United City, said: “Our public transport is creaking at the knees. There has been woeful under-investment.

“Congestion will increase and economic growth will stutter. Voting ‘yes’ will transform our buses, trams and trains. Saying ‘no’ means the billions being offered will go back to London.”

The campaign was launched in Rochdale by a coalition of trade unions, businesses, environmentalists, pensioners, students, community leaders, commuter groups and politicians.

They say the Government investment in Greater Manchester’s transport system, if congestion charging was approved, would create jobs, cut carbon emissions and allow people and goods to travel more easily around the region.

They also claim that only one in 10 motorists would be affected by the introduction of two “charging rings”.

The boundary for the outer ring is planned to be the M60 ring road and there would be an inner ring closer to Manchester city centre. Motorists would pay £5 a day to cross both rings at peak times.

Among improvements planned for Bolton are a new bus and rail interchange, improvements to stations at Hall i’th’ Wood, Bromley Cross, Blackrod, Daisy Hill, Westhoughton and Lostock, a park and ride scheme at Horwich Parkway and more buses.

A ‘no’ group, The Greater Manchester Momentum Group, agrees with the need for better public transport, but says a congestion charge will hit businesses and commuters and deter investment.

See The Bolton News on Saturday for an in-depth study into the arguments for and against a congestion charge.